Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category
Non-fiction authors Jonny Steinberg and Ashwin Desai, were quizzed on “Writing the Other” by facilitator Federico Settler at Saturday’s session at the 16th annual Time of the Writer International Writers Festival.
Steinberg, most recently the author of Little Liberia: An African Odyssey in New York, is attached to the Centre for African Studies in Oxford, and winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize for Literature, was asked how his work differs from that of fiction writers. Steinberg answered that he “can’t get into somebody else’s head”, but that he has to write from what he knows. He added that he “wouldn’t presume to give voice to the other,” but instead gets to know his interviewee very well, and “writes about that relationship”.
Ashwin Desai, political commentator, explained that writing about interviews conducted in the place he calls home, Durban, was difficult in that “one can’t escape one’s own biography”. He said in his book, Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island, he wanted to talk about what happens when the “Calibans come to power” (referring to Shakespeare’s The Tempest), noting that they often end up acting as “Prosperos”.
Steinberg explained that when he tries to understand the people he writes about, he asks himself “how they feel about their own death”. He explained that his forthcoming book, to be published early in 2014, focuses on a Somali man who led a “deracinated life in Somali, until he saved enough money to hitch-hike to SA, where he now runs a spaza shop in Blikkiesdorp”. He noted that this man insisted on all the interviews he gave Steinberg being held in Steinberg’s car, so that he could see “tsotsis” coming, if there were any, “in a way, trying to escape his own murder”. This gave a sense of the xenophobic conditions under which he had to live, as opposed to Steinberg’s relative safety as a white man.
At question time, a member of the audience asked Steinberg about Little Liberia, querying why there was a “muting of gender” in the text. Steinberg replied that he tends to sink more into the lives of the men he interviews, “perhaps because of projection and the ability to imagine myself in their shoes”. He said however, that “one day I hope to write intimately about a woman”. He said it was important for a writer not to speak over a reader’s head, but to “trust your reader to be able to work out what you show him/her, which must be the guts of it, the story”. He noted how one of his Liberian protagonists found it very traumatic to have sex with his wife for the first time, because she had undergone female circumcision. He then became virulently opposed to it. His wife however, supported the practice, and insisted on her daughters being circumcised too. “Swooping down on cultural practices from the outside doesn’t work,” said Steinberg, “it has to happen from the inside and outside at the same time”.
Desai slated the rhetoric of post-colonial academics who analyse subaltern writing against the dominant discourse, saying it “doesn’t get you closer to the magic”. He said that interviewing people
for his book on Robben Island “humbled” him, although it didn’t stop him from being critical. He noted that “research is a messy business”.
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A curiously vulnerable second session focused on “Writing Gender Violence”. The tone was hesitant and yet determined.
Shubnum Khan, author of Onion Tears, said she believed domestic violence’s power comes from “its secrecy and shame”, and welcomed the opportunity to move the discussion from beyond the private confines of the home, to a more public sphere. Shafinaaz Hassim read from her recently published book Sophia, a novel about domestic violence, followed by Kagiso Molope who read from her novel about rape, called This Book Betrays my Brother. Hassim said she chooses to write about violence because she’s a sociologist researching the issue, but wants to unpack these stories “not scientifically, but for a broader audience”. Molope said she grew up in a violent township where she witnessed many attacks on women, and always “wanted to write about the role of the witness. Do you speak out? Make excuses for the men?”
Khan asked the authors to comment on why victims who endure trauma often are further victimised. Hassim said she believes this comes from a “pseudo self-righteous culture of denialism”, where “it has become acceptable to blame the victim for her abuse,” so that she can then be “punished / disciplined / fixed”. Molope said in her book the brother accused of rape rejects his sister when she tries to talk to him about what has happened: and then he excludes her from his community, revealing that her challenge has become a threat for an entire group, not just an individual.
Khan mentioned several high-profile rape/assault cases that have appeared in the media lately, for instance, the rape and murder of Anene Booysen in the Cape, and the shooting of Oscar Pistorius’s girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Hassim said that it is reassuring that there is a renewed consciousness around gender violence, because it is important that civil society fights back. Molope said, from what she has gathered from talking to township people, women in SA are “under siege”, they feel that there is a civil war against them and children.
An audience member asked Hassim whether she believes fiction can be a form of self-help. She said she lent Sophia to someone in an abusive marriage, who chose not to leave. Hassim said perhaps it was too early to see her action as a failed attempt. A man from the audience asked the authors whether they thought a man could write about gender-based violence. Molope said she believed one needs to include “many perspectives”. Another question focused on whether violence can have emancipatory possibilities. Molope said we can’t dictate how victims respond to violence, while Hassim mentioned a movie she saw about an Indian woman who burned her abusive husband to death in a house fire. Molope said it is always a victim’s choice to react in a certain way, but “you owe it yourself to just be you”.
Centre for Creative Arts co-ordinator, Tinso Mungwe, then wrapped up the festival with a vote of thanks for the organisers, funders, and authors.
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Renowned US/Palestinian author Susan Abulhawa was the focus of the first session on the Sneddon stage, Wednesday night, at Time of the Writer 2013. Political scientist Lubna Nadvi, the interviewer, asked about Abulhawa’s inspiration for writing her award-winning book, Mornings in Jenin. Initially trained as a biologist, Abulhawa said she began writing political commentary after the Second Intifada in Israel. When she heard of the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Jenin, she went to the Gaza strip and witnessed first-hand the suffering of the people there. She said this life-changing experience was the catalyst for writing her novel: “people who had lost everything, still found love for each other”.
She explained that the novel (which has been translated into 30 languages) is a piece of historical fiction, and that its aim is not altogether political. Rather, she sees it as trying to challenge the stereotype of Arabs as “crazy animals”. She said she also views it as a love story: between parents, friends, and a man and a woman.
Nadvi asked Abulhawa what she thinks the role of writers is when it comes to social justice issues. Abulhawa said said, “we are shaped by our societies, and what we write shapes our societies right back”. She said she wants to put the Palestinian story on the map, as in the past its literary tradition lay in Arabic poetry, which has been largely inaccessible to the West. She said terrorism has got Palestinian issues noticed in the West, but still “they do not control their own story”. However, Abulhawa emphasised that there is a crop of new writers and artists whose work counters the “Israeli narrative of ethnic cleansing”. She said for her, being a Palestinian writer, presenting her country’s story was “a form of resistance, enabling her to challenge dangerous and damaging myths”.
She spoke of the world’s mostly positive response to her book, saying that she even received letters from American Jews who said they had had no idea of how badly the Israelis were treating the Palestinians. Nadvi mentioned a South African band, The Mavrix, that has been inspired by Abulhawa’s book to make a music video called “Palestine is the New Black”. Watch the video here:
Nadvi asked Abulhawa about the “Nakba”, that is the Palestinian dispossession (the 65th anniversary of being exiled from their homeland by Israel). Abulhawa said it is “the oldest script in the book: an imperialist project”. Of current Palestinian leadership, she conceded it is “all over the place: a geographic, political and psychological fragmentation”. But she said it is a national liberation struggle, and that Palestinians “have a right to live without foreign masters”. She asked South African civil society to find ways to pressurise governments/universities etc to “stop doing business with the racist state”, noting that SA currently contributes $1bn/year to the Israeli economy, a lot of which comes from the “blood diamond industry”.
Noting that 98.6% of Palestinian children suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Abulhawa said that, even should the conflict end tomorrow, “the wounds will take years to heal”. She said she found it “exasperating” that: “Palestinians are blamed for their own fate, and have to negotiate their liberties with their own oppressors”. However, she said she had noticed a “palpable shift” in the way heroic Palestinian acts have made it hard for Israel to hide atrocities against her people. “I get demoralised and depressed,” said Abulhawa, but “at times I also feel empowered and hopeful, because I do see a change in discourse. History shows us that regimes affording exclusivity to one small group of people at the expense of another group generally don’t survive”.
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The theme of the second session was quite different! Zinaid Meeran and Nnedi Okorafor discussed “Exploring Genre in African Literature”. The chair, journalist Melinda Ferguson, mentioned that Okorafor has won the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature for her youth fantasy book Zahrah the Windseeker, while her novel Who Fears Death, was the winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2011. Okorafor said that she was the first Afro-American woman to win this award, noting that the bust of HP Lovecraft she was given as a prize offended her, as he had written a poem called, “The Creation of Nigger” many years ago. She said she doesn’t worry so much about pigeon-holing her writing according to genre, even though she “knows there are lots of genre watchdogs out there”. She said to aspirant authors, “rather write what you want to write, and edit it a hundred times, and then let others tell you what genre it is”. She said she thinks of herself as her audience, “writing the mystical stories she wishes to write, hoping to please her readership, but not writing to please them”.
Zinaid Meeran said he sees genre as a “process where art is shaped to make it marketable”, and that, “diabolically, this contains an element of social control”. He said it does have a “useful element, in that it enables the artist to organise his/her ideas, but it is an imposition, nevertheless”. Zinaid said when people described him as writing for an “Indian community,” that he was “flabbergasted”, and wanted to “resist a totalitarian racial category”. He explained that in his most recent novel, Tanuki Ichiban, he has designed a new genre, that of the “riot waif”, abandoned characters who fight back. Melinda Ferguson asked Meeran whether publishers “have to be brave to publish work like yours?” Meeran said humourously that he bought the most copies of Tanuki himself. He said that recognition of his unique genre was important to him: “the feeling of tension dissipates when you meet your underground readership”.
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“Writers Writing a New World,” the theme for the 16th annual Time of the Writer International Writers Festival, was mulled over by University of KwaZulu Natal Dean, Cheryl Potgieter, at the festival’s Opening Evening at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Monday night. After a mellow musical interlude by Thungi, a Zimbabwean group, Potgieter took to the tage, noting that writers can form an activist constituency, playing a moral role in shaping our society. She mentioned that writers need to tackle gender-based violence, quoting the old adage “to know and not to do is not to know”. She also touched on the importance of writers being able to choose to write in their own language.
After Potgieter had left the stage, six well-known Durban activists brought candles up to the podium and read excerpts from Footprints beyond Grey Street, paying tribute to the late Phyllis Naidoo, a “giant of a writer and social activist” who died in Durban earlier this year.
Then it was the turn of the writers to introduce themselves and their thoughts around the theme of “Writing a New World”. First up was Susan Abulhawa, a Palestinian author living in the US, who has just finished attending Israeli Apartheid Week in Johannesburg. She read from her majorly successful novel Mornings in Jenin, describing herself as one of a handful of novelists who present the Palestinian story in an authentic voice (in the past Palestine has been misrepresented by authors from other cultures).
Next was a feisty Jackee Batanda, from Uganda, who also emphasised the importance of Ugandans speaking for themselves. She will be participating in a panel entitled “The Writer as Reporter”, later on in the week.
Elana Bregin, a Durban novelist, spoke of her most recent novel, Survival Training for Lonely Hearts, which she said uses romance as a lens to examine a troubled South Africa. She believes the role of the writer is to craft well-told stories, and engage in a “sensual dance with the greater existence”. She commended the explosion of the “online world” as creating a sense of “fun and play”, but warned that “few online things have lasting value,” stressing that the writer’s role is “not to go viral, but vertical, to leave a lasting record of the complex, astonishing and difficult world that we once were part of”.
Another Durbanite, Ashwin Desai followed on from Bregin, saying that a “brave new world” cannot be written by “propagandists or cowards”. He called for writers to deliver honest “post-apartheid commentary”.
Then, Nigerian Jude Dibia took the microphone, focussing on his particular interest, which is “Queer Africa”. He explained his most popular novel is Walking the Shadows, a book about homosexuality, which sold 300% more copies than any of his other books, even in Nigeria, where according to the government, “there are no gay people”.
Damon Galgut tried to describe the “mysterious process of becoming a writer,” by narrating the story of how, at 12, his teacher read him and his classmates a Roald Dahl story called “Pig”. After complaints from parents that the subject matter was too disturbing, the teacher was banned from sharing any more Dahl stories. He said this piqued his interest in writing, that text could make a familiar world unfamiliar.
Shafinaaz Hassim, who writes about gender-based violence, called on writers to “constantly review the effect of violence”. She said that as a writer she “tries to give violence a voice”. She explained that her most recent book, Sophia, a book about domestic violence, is written to encourage children to speak about hidden abuse. She ended on an optimistic note, saying that with the telling of our stories, “the poison will seep out and we will find our human light again”.
Duncan Kgatea, an ex-mineworker from Rustenburg, who writes youth novels, described writers as prophets, who must be a nation’s conscience. He referred to the title of one of his books, Look into the mirror, encouraging young people to carry a metaphoric mirror with them that enhances their sense of self-acceptance.
Bhekisigcino Khawula, a Zulu author from umZinto, used a translator to address the audience. There was a lovely rapport between the two, sparking a lot of laughter in the auditorium. He said he wished more people would learn to speak isiZulu.
Zinaid Meeran delivered a very wacky address, saying that he “conceived of human nature as sparks flow, bringing freedom”, and that his writing reflected this.
Andile Mngxitama slated SA’s democracy, saying it “meant electing the next set of fascists”. He decried the fact that ongoing violence has become normalised, asking writers to “show rulers for what they are”. He asked “how do we love, and write poetry, under such circumstances,” inviting the audience to the launch of his novella at Ike’s Books on Saturday.
Kagiso Molope explained that mothering a boy had triggered the writing of her novel This book betrays my brother, as she had to think carefully about her role in addressing violence against women and children in SA.
Nnedi Okorafor, a Nigerian author living in the US, said she felt comfortable with the theme of “Writing a New World”. She explained that Nigeria is her muse.
Graham Reid, a South African academic, who wrote a book called How to be a real gay, spoke of a positive global shift in attitude towards homosexuals, emphasising that many cultural traditions are “hybrid, fluid and changing”.
Jo-Anne Richards, who will be launching her next novel The Imagined Child at this festival said she believes politically troubled SA is a “gift for writers”. She said of her own role as writer that she “doesn’t write parables, explores rather than exposes, writing not didactically or to create invisible signposts … but to rummage through the parts of our strange new society”. She said she believes “love and redemption come from facing our own flaws”.
Aman Sethi, an Indian author, whose book A Free Man documents the lives of daily wage-labourers sleeping on Delhi’s streets, said he believes the role of the writer is “to listen to those who are building the new world with their own hands”.
Lastly, Jonny Steinberg read an extract from his soon-to-be-published book about a Somali refugee who walked from his homeland to reach SA.
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The written word will envelop Durban as nineteen writers from South Africa, Africa and abroad, gather for a thought-provoking week of literary dialogue, exchange of ideas and stimulating discussion at the 16th Time of the Writer International Writers Festival (18 – 23 March). The festival, hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), with principal support by National Lottery Distribution Fund, will feature a diverse gathering of leading novelists, social commentators, activists, playwrights and short story writers.
Opening night will feature all participating writers as they make brief presentations at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, while the newly appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor of the School of Humanities, Prof Cheryl Potgieter will make a keynote address and a tribute to the late Phyllis Naidoo will be read. The rest of the week’s evening presentations will be panel discussions with writers talking about their writing and the issues dealt with in their work. The musical act opening the festival is Zimbabwean band Tanga Pasi.
The panel discussion titled Perspectives in South African Writing on Tuesday 19th March will feature South African writers Kabelo Duncan Kgatea and Jo-Anne Richards. Trained as a journalist and working as a miner, it was after Kgatea’s first book Njeng manong fa ke sule! (Devour me, vultures, when I’m dead!) was published and won the Sanlam Prize Youth Literature (silver) in the Sotho category, that he got promoted to communications officer and no longer worked below ground. When The Innocence of Roast Chicken, the debut novel of internationally published author and journalist Richards first appeared, it topped the South African best seller list in its first week and remained there for 15 weeks. This discussion will be facilitated by Zukiswa Wanner.
Controversial human rights issues are brought to the fore in the evening’s second panel titled Africa Writing Queer Identity, featuring leading Nigerian writer Jude Dibia and Graeme Reid of South Africa, and will be facilitated by Sarojini Nadar. Dibia’s books address issues which range from sexuality, gender roles, race to the stigma of HIV/AIDS in modern day Africa. Reid, the director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Programme and founding director of the Gay and Lesbian Archives of South Africa, explores gay identities in South Africa in his book How to be a Real Gay. Music by Durban duo Njeza and Siphelele Dlamini will commence the evening proceedings at 19h30.
Book launches take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre’s Wellington Tavern deck prior to the evening shows, from 18h45. The first book launch of the festival is the UKZN English/IsiZulu Book (UKZN Press)– a collaborative venture of stories by various authors.
On Wednesday 20th March, the first panel, titled Reflections on the Palestinian State, features Palestinian-born American-based novelist and essayist, Susan Abulhawa, in an interview discussion with Lubna Nadvi. Abulhawa’s Mornings in Jenin was translated into 24 languages worldwide and hailed by The Times as the “first English-language novel to express fully the human dimension of the Palestinian tragedy”. Exploring Genre in African Literature is the topic of the second panel, featuring South African author, photographer and filmmaker, Zinaid Meeran, alongside Nnedi Okorafor, award-winning author born in the United States and of Nigerian descent. Meeran was awarded the European Union Literary award for his debut Saracen at the Gates in 2009. About a curious exploration of living raceless in a country where just about everybody seems to have one, this debut was also shortlisted for the Sunday Times fiction prize in 2010. A professor of creative writing, Okorafor has received numerous accolades for her books, which are often characterized by African culture infused with reminiscent settings and memorable characters. This panel will be facilitated by True Love books editor and publisher Melinda Ferguson. Music by Durban duo Nhlanhla Zondi and Zulublue will kick start the evening presentation, while Molope’s book, This Book Betrays my Brother launches prior to the show.
On the evening of Human Rights Day, Thursday 21st March is the panel titled Perspectives in SA Writing, with a panel which features Elana Bregin and Damon Galgut, and facilitated by Siphiwo Mahala. Galgut’s In a Strange Room, a novel which follows the journey of an isolated South African traveler seeking a deep satisfaction in life, was shortlisted for several awards, including the 2010 Man Booker Prize and M-Net Literary Award. Bregin is well known for her award-winning young adult titles, which include The Kayaboeties and The Red-haired Khumalo, which all deal with the social realities of a changing South Africa.
Under the title The Reporter as Writer, Jackee Batanda from Uganda and Aman Sethi from India, both novelists and journalists, feature in the evening’s second panel discussion. Together with the numerous awards for her fiction writing, Batanda also featured in the London Times alongside 19 young women shaping the future of Africa. A seasoned journalist working as a correspondent for The Hindu, a newspaper in India with a daily readership of about 2.5 million, Sethi has also contributed articles to various publications, around health policies in India. The evening’s musical act is the pair Mike Muyo and Tom Watkeys.
Following the book launch of The Imagined Child (Picador) by festival participant Jo-Anne Richards, and a music performance by the band Nje, the presentation of prizes to winners of the schools short story competition will take place on Friday 22nd March. The first session titled Youth Literature, similarly puts a spotlight on young people, and features writers Elieshi Lema from Tanzania and BD Khawula from South Africa. Lema started off writing poetry before moving on to children’s books. Her first novel Parched Earth – A Love Story received an honorable mention in the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa and forms part of the curriculum in various universities. Based in Durban, Khawula’s inspiration to write stems from his love for his country. His debut novel Yihlathi Leli, won a silver award in the African Languages category at the Sanlam Youth Literature Awards.
The second panel for the evening, Writing Transformation, features South African critical thinkers and writers Andile Mngxitama and Prof Sampie Terreblanche. While Mngxitama writes significantly around the philosophy and writings of late Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko, Terreblanche’s focuses lies on the history of economic thought and policy matters in South and Southern Africa.
The Saturday evening book launch is On Being Human featuring contributions by various writers and edited by Duduzile Mabaso (Black Letter Media). Music and song by Durban songbird Skye Wanda will precede the discussion Writing the Other, featuring the South African panel of Ashwin Desai and Jonny Steinberg. An activist intellectual, Desai is celebrated the world over, for his poignant articulation of stories about struggle, oppression and resistance. Award-winning author Steinberg, writes about experiences about everyday life in the wake of South Africa’s transition to democracy. His debut novel Midlands, about the murder of a white South African farmer, won the Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize in 2003. This panel discussion will be facilitated by Dr. Frederico Settler from the Philosophy department at UKZN.
The festival closes with a look at the pertinent issue with South African writers Shafinaaz Hassim and Kagiso Lesego Molope, in a panel titled Writing Gender Violence. Hassim, a writer, poet and sociologist and driving force behind Johannesburg-based publishers, WordFire Press, recently published a novel on domestic violence titled SoPhia in November 2012, while Molope’s third novel This Book Betrays my Brother raises many gender equality issues prevalent in South Africa, amongst them the perception that women who wear revealing clothing invite sexual advances. Molope’s first novel, Dancing in the Dust, was put on the IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) list for 2006, making her the first Black South African to make the list.
Publishing is undoubtedly one of the central elements in the development of a local literary culture. That said a notable event that has become a significant part of the annual Time of the Writer international writers’ festival, is the Publishing Forum. Taking place on Wednesday, 20th March between 10h00 – 14h00 at the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, this year’s forum will feature a range of panels on salient issues within the publishing landscape. Topics discussed will cover the magazine industry, maximizing exposure in the world of digital publishing, converting your PhD thesis into a book and what publishers look for in a manuscript.
In addition to the nightly showcases at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, a broad range of day activities including seminars and workshops are formulated to promote a culture of reading, writing and creative expression. This includes the educator’s forum with teachers on the implementation of literature in the classroom, the community writing forum with members of the public interested in literature, visits to schools, and a prison writing programme.
Tickets are R25 for the evening sessions, R10 for students, and can be purchased through Computicket or at the door one hour before the event. Workshops and seminars are free.
The full programme of activities, and other information is available on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za.
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TALENT CAMPUS DURBAN CALLS FOR FILMMAKERS AND FILM CRITICS
Talent Campus Durban is looking for 40 of the most innovative voices of African cinema to take part in the 6th edition of this leading networking and developmental event held at the 34th Durban International Film Festival.
Talent Campus Durban seeks to provide selected participants with an opportunity to meet with international industry professionals and experts in various aspects of the filmmaking business through participations in a 5-day programme of masterclasses, workshops and industry networking events. The continent of Africa is a source of a myriad narratives which offer possibilities to be re-imagined, re-told, overlapped and adapted within numerous contexts. Under this year’s theme of “Memetic Africa”, Talent Campus Durban calls for African filmmakers to participate in this programme and be inspired by stories shaped by varying innovative patterns, ideas, customs, traditions, practices and skills that enforce the legacy of the African film context.
Talent Campus Durban also calls for participants for Talent Press, a mentoring programme for three African film critics in collaboration with FIPRESCI and Goethe Institut, which makes a welcome return in its second year. Talent Press mentors will offer their expertise to guide selected participants in the art of film criticism with access to all the screenings of the 34th Durban International Film Festival.
The five-day programme also includes the 3rd edition of Doc Station, where three selected documentary projects submitted by accepted talents will be finessed and packaged for presentation within the DOC Circle pitching forum at the 6th Durban FilmMart. Applications for Doc Station are open to selected participants for Talent Campus. Mohamed El Amine Hattou of Algeria was one of the three Doc Station participants in the 5th Talent Campus Durban who, after presenting his project at Doc Circle, also had the invaluable opportunity to meet one-on-one with potential investors. Describing his experience, Hattou says, “Doc Station is a great opportunity to gain in maturity, networking, and dive into a promiscuous and professional African market. After my pitch on Doc Station, I had some positive and interesting feedback on my project. It was also an easy way to know about new funding and co-production opportunities. Durban Talent Campus is a unique way for African filmmakers to connect, meet and share their stories.”
Held in co-operation with the Berlinale Talent Campus, and with support from the German Embassy of South Africa, Goethe Institut of South Africa, and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Talent Campus Durban runs from 19 to 23 July 2013. Apart from the main event in Berlin, Talent Campus partnerships also take place at selected festivals in Buenos Aires, Guadalajara, Tokyo and Sarajevo. Opportunities for participating talents are enhanced through Talent Campus networks and the Berlinale’s global information platform.
Application is open to filmmakers and critics who are resident in Africa. Applicants are encouraged to apply well before the deadline in order to submit their work samples timeously. Application can be done online here (www.berlinale-talentcampus.de/campus/ap/select/event/36) and applications close on 1st April 2013.
Participation Conditions (abridged) Full regulations available at www.durbanfilmfest.co.za
To qualify, applicants must:
- work within one of the following categories: screenwriting, producing, directing, acting, cinematography, editing, sound design, film music composition, animation, art direction, production design, video installation OR (for Talent Press) work as a film reviewer.
- have completed at least one short film, OR had a film screened at a recognised film festival, OR be a final year film student (undergraduate or post-grad) OR have proven experience in the film industry, OR have published reviews for at least six months.
- submit a sample of creative work formatted as per regulations.
- be an African citizen, currently residing in Africa and in possession of a valid passport by 1 May 2013.
- be at least 18 years of age.
- complete an online application form (English only).
For Doc Station (a mentoring programme for documentary filmmakers). An invitation to apply opens only after you have completed the above online application process. Doc Station will feed into the Durban FilmMart DOC Circle.
For Talent Press (a mentoring programme for film critics, in collaboration with FIPRESCI and the Goethe-Institut). Follow the separate online application process.
Application deadline 1 April 2013 Applications and materials which arrive after 1 April will not be considered. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Successful applicants will be informed via email and the website by 1 May 2013.
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- The course will be conducted in English.
- Travel costs, accommodation and a subsistence contribution will be offered to participants, at the discretion of Talent Campus Durban.
- In addition to the Talent Campus Durban activities, the selected participants will have the opportunity to attend films and the events of the 34th DIFF.
Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) with principal funding from the National Lottery Distribution Fund, the 16th Time of the Writer – International Writer’s Festival, which takes place between 18 – 23 March 2013, once again invites learners to submit material for its short story writing competition. The Time of the Writer Schools Short Story Competition is open to all high school learners and aims to encourage creativity and expression in young people. This competition is the springboard for future storytellers of South Africa.
Winners will be awarded cash prizes, book vouchers and complimentary tickets to the festival.
Submit your stories, with the name of your school, teacher’s name, and your school’s telephone number, to the Centre for Creative Arts (details below). You can write about any topic, but entries must be fictional stories and not critical essays. A maximum of 5 pages (preferably typed) are to be written in English, Zulu or Afrikaans. Illegible entries will not be considered.
Entries can be submitted by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 031 260 3074, or hand-delivery: Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, Mazisi Kunene Ave, Durban, 4041, South Africa.
DEADLINE: 28th February 2013
For more information on the festival or the competition, please contact the Centre for Creative Arts on 031 260 2506/1816 or email email@example.com.
Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal the 16th Time of the Writer festival is funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder) and the City of Durban.
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The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Volume II was launched at the Wellington Tavern on Thursday night. Later, at Poetry Africa 2012’s main event, in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Oswald Mtshali, renowned poet, and chair of this year’s selection committee noted that “poetry has immeasurable range. It is enriching spiritually and emotionally”. He commended the publisher of the collection, the Jacana Literary Foundation, for promoting poetry, saying as an adjudicator it took “superhuman” effort to choose between the two finalists for this year’s award.
Neels Jenssen from the EU took the mic, commending all the poets published in this year’s anthology. He said “your work is another stepping stone towards a common culture in SA”. He announced that Vonani Bila had won second prize with his poem, “boys from seshego”, while Siddiq Khan was the overall winner with his poem “Anthem for Old Nations”. An insouciant, confident Khan then read his poem.
Ghanaian poet Nii Ayikwei Parkes set a low-key, mellow tone for the main evening’s line-up. He brought in a musical element, asking us to “compare the weight of a guitar string / to the weight of the people it moves”. Although he tackled difficult topics, like slavery, his melodious voice, and nuanced lyrics stood in sharp contrast to some of the angrier poets attending this year’s festival who also wrote about racism. In a humourous poem called “This is not a love poem”, Parkes wrote “this is not a love poem – it’s a sexed-up dossier … a lingering breath of hot air / as it creeps up your thighs / it’s a game, a solo, while I riff a plan to strip you of everything you own”. In the next poem, called “This is a love poem”, Parkes cajoled the woman of his dreams to let him make “you a part of me”.
Niels Hav, from Denmark, the next poet up on stage was funny too, but not erotic. He explained that for him, poetry must be “emblematic. A reader must feel at home with his own feelings in my poem”. He wrote about falling in love with five consecutive women he sees on a bus, who don’t notice him, concluding wryly: “It always ends up that way, you are left standing on a curb, sucking on a cigarette, mildly unhappy”. I loved his poem about a pen where he said: “Poetry is not for sissies / a poem must be a Dow Jones index / a mixture of reality and sheer bluff”. He congratulated SA on “moving in the right direction”, reading a poem he wrote about the country years ago, focussing on the “butterfly effect”, how a small change in one part of the world can create ripples far away. A pragmatic poet, Hav concluded: “if you want something said / you’ll have to say it yourself”. His last poem, concise, pointed, dealt with the end of Western society: “we’ll be gone / they’ll be gone / Hallelujah”.
Last up before the interval was beloved SA poet, Rustum Kozain. His poetry, a mixture of earnestness, passion and melancholia, never fails to cut to the quick. Reading a poem about his first lover, he referred to the “failed algorithms of heartbreak”. Although aware that “it’s not done to apostrophise some romantic absence”, he focussed on the perpetual presence of hurt, both politically (as in apartheid) and privately (romantically). He premiered two new poems not performed publicly before. The first one, “Gods of War”, inspired by a photograph of two sisters in contemporary Syria, was raw and intense, questioning the existence of God in a world tainted by the brutality of war. Kozain asked: “Who wants to rule this tired republic of shame and men in suits smirking / when God dies in Syria, where he was made / what does it matter?” His poetry evinces a visionary element, he is in search of something sacred, as revealed by the last poem he read, “Kingdom of Rain II”, from his second collection Groundwork. This poem shows ecological thinking as the poet explores his feeling of kinship with a leopard: “Yes, I want to let that leopard know / that it is part of me / and I am part of it / in all the ways that that could mean.”
After the interval, D’bi Young, a bold warrior poet from Jamaica (currently living in Cape Town), arrested the audience with her provocative poems about taboo topics, such as incest, slavery, HIV/AIDS and menstruation. Sounding a little like Joan Armatrading, she sang about her need for acceptance, and a revolution of love.
Closing the evening session was Tumi Molekane, a well-known SA rapper. Members of the audience, knew his songs by heart, interjected as he spoke about Gangsters: “this one’s a rebel / could kick start a coup d’etat”. Molekane was a performer with panache, thanking Peter Rorvik and the Centre for Creative Arts for “making me collide with all these intellectual people and sex-bombs”. He had the crowd up and dancing with his rendition of “I can’t decide if it’s the money”, before MC Carol Gumede wrapped up, thanking all the poets, and sending us home.
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Much loved Thekwini musos Guy Buttery and Nibs van der Spuy, just back from a tour of Europe, provided the intro to the main event on the third evening of Poetry Africa 2012, their guitar work delicate and interesting as usual.
The first poet on stage, Tumelo Khoza, hails from Empangeni, and currently lives in Durban. Young, and confident, dressed simply in jeans and a T-shirt declaiming, “Poet”: Khoza has just returned from visiting Sweden, where she was hosted by the Ordsprak poets (also represented at Poetry Africa this year). Tumelo was inclusive in her delivery, inviting a guitarist to accompany her as she spoke her first poem “Black-padded bra”, then calling up two young male dancers to animate her poem “Democracy”. Feistily, she characterised “Democracy” as a vagrant “forever high on a spliff of our disjointed society…he’s a reflection of you and me”. Khoza’s poem about abortion was hard-hitting and deeply felt; she cried as she performed it. In a playful about-turn of gender roles, she summoned Ghanaian poet Nyii Ayikwei Parkes, on to stage, where she recited a remixed nursery rhyme, which, although a little strained, was admirable in its rendering of her as the active pursuer, and him as the passive recipient of her love interest. Her last poem, a direct address to Jacob Zuma, implored the President to acknowledge SA youth, asserting that “our silence is the cheapest gold”.
Following on from Khoza was a poet from Reunion, Gouslaye, who performed his poetry in Creole (it was translated on an overhead projector). His work was foreign, other: quite eerie, strange and philosophical. Speaking of “magic visions, I dream with eyes wide open”, he summoned up ethereal, occasionally bizarre, often fantastical images of a man wandering through nature. I wondered if the translator had got it wrong, naming Reunion the “barmy” island, or perhaps Gouslaye really did think the island induces madness? The music Gouslaye made with a piece of hosepipe whirled round his head added an element of melodrama.
Last up before interval, Philo Ikonya, a Kenyan poet, showed a strong rootedness in human rights activism. She said she was glad to have had the chance to get a suntan, and braided hair, from “fabulous” Durban. She refuted claims that an activist is like a “female Anopheles mosquito, a blood sucker looking for donor money”, instead noting that the “word is powerful / this optic fibre is here,” and emphasising her belief that a “person is a person because of other people”. Ikonya’s poem dedicated to the 44 miners killed at Marikana was hair-raising, as she brought the audience in to sing “Senzeni Na” (what have we done). Calling for better pay for miners, she said simply, but powerfully, “let us open up new ways/let the miners sing new songs”. In closing Ikonya said she had Mandela’s face in her mind as she performed that poem, she thanked the audience for singing and connected her with the feelings.
After the interval, SA musician Pedro Espi-Sanchez performed one song (played on a piece of Paw-paw sapling he had hollowed out as we watched), and then ushered in Xhosa matriarch and mouthbow player Madosini, in full traditional regalia. The audience ululated as she played songs she had learnt as a girl, which were anthropologically interesting as she revived a way of life gone by.
The last act for the night was Oliver Mtukudzi, a Zimbabwean legend. Strangely quite hesitant at first, the guitarist nevertheless had us in the palm of his hand as he played expertly, explaining: “Where I come from music is like food…also, we use it to diffuse tension”. He explained his world view “life is what you make it”. For me it was interesting to learn more about one of my favourite Mtukudzi songs, “What shall we do”. He explained that he wrote it to get his fellow Zimbabweans thinking about AIDS, saying he felt he had succeeded in making people listen.
Eventually Peter Rorvik, director of the Centre for Creative Arts, and all the poets joined Mtukudzi on stage, dancing as the audience stood up and clapped to the music.
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The second evening of the 16th Poetry Africa Festival in Durban kicked off with Cape Town poet Rustum Kozain launching his second collection, Groundwork, at the Wellington Tavern.
Following on from here, Nkolo Madidi, the host for the evening, took to the stage and welcomed University of KwaZulu Natal Vice-Chancellor William Makgoba, who was in the audience.
The line-up of the main event started with Mbali Vilakazi, a performance poet from the Eastern Cape, who at times used voice-overs and reverberation to give her poetry more clout. Clearly, the personal is political for Vilakazi, a feminist, as she vowed “however I crash and burn / there’s always enough faith to begin again”.
Her poem about the girl assaulted for daring to wear a miniskirt to Noord Station in Pretoria was particularly striking, as she described “sixty grown men encircling children,” and the fact that the girl may never wear the skirt again as “it has become a scar across her heart”. In another poem she explored how the power of the patriarchal system has succeeded in making women unfamiliar to themselves, but reminded us that “we must always remember that we have survived”. Vilakazi’s last poem focused on the wonderful image of the phoenix who never dies, reminding those who suffer from crises of identity that comfort can be found in the routine: “Ordinary people, there is solace in this…it is an everyday of who we are”.
Next up were the Ordsprak Poets, a collective from Sweden. All four poets shared a common humour, although their subject matter diverged. Sam Kessel recited a rambling narrative poem for his grandfather (who came from Lithuania to Pretoria) – although he never met him, he said he felt closer to him by travelling to South Africa. Laura Wilborg’s poem about social alienation was enhanced by her fragmented, nervous delivery. She read a poem she wrote when she was seven, explaining that she is trying to reach out to the child in her, as she is working on a children’s play. Oskar Hanska rapped a spontaneous and hilarious poem about falling in love and being dumped, which resonated with the audience.
Following on from the Swedes, Tolu Ogunlesi, a Nigerian poet, set a far more considered, even tone, as he read poems set in various countries of the world. After the interval, Werewere Liking, from the Cote d’Ivoire, charmed the audience with her spirited delivery of songs and poems in her native French (with the help of a translator at times). A spry grandmother, clothed in a pants suit made from African fabric, and adorned with beads, she danced as she declaimed: “I want African women’s dreams for a better life / even when they sound sentimental, as long as they speak and carry from afar”. Her poetry was refreshing. As she invited us to Walk for Peace, she reminded us of what UNESCO says: one should rather walk for, rather than against – as if you struggle against something, it saps your energy.
The last poet up, Saul Williams, from the US, was clearly the most charismatic of the performers on stage that night. His dynamic poetry mirrored the anger of Mbali Vilakazi, in that both poets challenge social norms that perpetuate racism. Williams had a certain fiery evangelism as he proclaimed: “I am you, but I am also me / pastor of sheep that graze in the street”. He warned us “this nigger bites”. Although fierce, Williams also evinced tenderness as he spoke poetry about his children. He challenged the audience, asking us: “What is your mind’s immigration policy? Are you certain you are not a victim of identity fraud?” concluding in the same poem: “Fuck your thought police / fuck you reality show / fuck your faction”. We were mesmerised, but not surprised as he said he would like to write a “burning book”.
Williams said that he always forgot how “cool it feels to be at a poetry festival – it does something wonderful, to add this city, this country, these people – to a festival”.
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The 16th annual Poetry Africa festival, organised by the Centre for Creative Arts, was opened on Monday evening with a ceremony featuring musical and poetry performances at the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Peter Rorvik, Director of the Centre for Creative Arts (who also celebrated his birthday at the event!), gave the opening speech, saying that “Culture feeds the soul of society and artists articulate the world around us”.
The host for the evening, Lebo Mashile, introduced performances by a host of international and local poets, including Swedish slam-poet Henry Bowers, American poet and musician Saul Stacey Williams, Jamaican dub poet D’bi Young, Canadian-born poet Croc e Moses, Niels Hav from Denmark, Philo Ikonya from Kenya, Tolu Ogunlesi from Nigeria, Nii Ayikwei Parkes from Ghana, as well as our own Rustum Kozain, Tumelo Khoza (the youngest poet in the line-up), praise poet Jessica Mbangeni and spoken word artist Ewok.
Music was provided by Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi, Mbali Vilakazi and Madala and Zos Kunene.
Wanda Henning took photos at the event. View the slideshow:
Poetry Africa tweeted from the event:
Image courtesy Examiner
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